Taking the eDiscovery Bull by the Horns – Program Management Series, Part 1

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A multi-part series on eDiscovery program management issues facing serial litigants, including readiness, resources, service providers, metrics, and more

A great deal has been written and spoken about the challenges faced in individual eDiscovery projects and how best to meet them, but most organizations face far more than one eDiscovery project.  Most face more than one a year, and many face more than one at once.  For large corporations, the median number of active matters is 20.

eDiscovery Program Management

For organizations that find eDiscovery a recurring part of their annual activity, there is more to consider than just best practices for executing each individual project.  For example:

  • How ready is the organization for the next project?
  • Can that readiness be improved in any way?
  • Are available resources adequate to current needs?
  • What about future needs? Are needs changing?
  • Should we insource more? Outsource more?
  • How might we evaluate service providers?
  • What metrics should we track across projects?
  • Can we continue improvement over time?

Rather than project management considerations, these are program management considerations.  Program management should be an active concern for those attorneys and other legal department personnel responsible for eDiscovery activities within an organization.  Effective program management can do even more than effective project management to reduce costs and risks and to increase predictability, consistency, and defensibility.

Benefits of Effective Management

Taking the eDiscovery bull by the horns and beginning proactive management of your eDiscovery program can lead to significant increases in efficiency and reductions in cost.  Much of the unnecessary costs and delays in individual projects arise from the chaos that comes without adequate readiness: uncertainty about what there is, about how it can be gotten, about what providers or processes to use, etc.  Each project includes the cost and time of reinventing several wheels – cost and time that can be saved through effective program management.

Along with cost, defensibility is a primary concern about eDiscovery activities, and as with cost, defensibility can be improved with effective program management.  The pillars of discovery defensibility are consistency and completeness, both of which are improved by proactive management in a variety of ways.  For example:

  • Starting with a data map reduces the chances of overlooked sources
  • Following established policies and procedures increases consistency
  • Using the same tools decreases the likelihood of user technical errors
  • Working with the same experts increases understanding over time

Committing the time and effort to engage in proactive program management can yield these cost and risk reduction benefits to the organization, while also making each individual project easier to manage and complete effectively.

Upcoming in this Series

Over the course of this series, we will discuss a range of program management considerations, including: evaluating and improving readiness; evaluating needs and resources; insourcing, outsourcing, and service models; evaluating potential service providers; useful metrics to track and reports to generate; and, ongoing program maintenance and improvement.  We will begin, in the next Part, with evaluating and improving readiness.

About the Author

Matthew Verga

Director of Education

Matthew Verga is an electronic discovery expert proficient at leveraging his legal experience as an attorney, his technical knowledge as a practitioner, and his skills as a communicator to make complex eDiscovery topics accessible to diverse audiences. A fourteen-year industry veteran, Matthew has worked across every phase of the EDRM and at every level from the project trenches to enterprise program design. He leverages this background to produce engaging educational content to empower practitioners at all levels with knowledge they can use to improve their projects, their careers, and their organizations.

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